Identity Theft

GETTING HELP

Start by getting proactive. ID Theft Prevention is ID Theft Protection.

The best place to start protecting your credit is with a fresh credit report. Your credit report is the hub for all of your financial information. If there’s a problem with your credit or if you’ve been a victim of identity theft, it will be reflected in your credit report. You can obtain a copy of your credit report safely and securely by clicking here.

Because of the increased threat of identity theft, many credit reporting experts are recommending that consumers do credit check-ups every 4 to 6 months. Many consumers are employing the services of credit monitoring agencies, so they are immediately alerted, should anything out of the ordinary show up on a credit report. You can read more about credit monitoring by clicking here.

Basic steps you can take to protect yourself from ID Theft:

  1. Make sure you’re using a secure server when accessing the Internet. Cyber hackers can get into your system and steal critical personal and financial information.
  2. Shred. Shred. Shred. If you feel like you’re shredding every piece of paper that enters your home, you’re doing it right. Invest in a shredder – it’s worth it.
  3. Keep your Social Security card, passport, license, and other valuable personal information hidden. A lockbox (or safety deposit box) is a good idea. Leaving the lockbox out in the open isn’t.
  4. Avoid putting your phone number or Social Security number on checks.
  5. Get a mailbox that locks.
  6. Opt-out of any unnecessary (sometimes risky) credit or insurance offers. You can call 1-888-5OPTOUT and alert all 3 credit bureaus that your name is not for sale.
  7. Never provide your social security information or private contact information on the phone – unless YOU initiated the phone call.
  8. Delete any suspicious email. If it seems strange, it is. If it seems too good to be true – it is.
  9. If you’re communicating with a business, be sure that electronic data is encrypted (secure) and that their security systems are audited.
  10. Watch for people who may try to eavesdrop and overhear the information you give out orally. A great example of this is not saying your phone number aloud in a supermarket when you’ve forgotten your loyalty/discount card.
  11. Memorize all pin numbers – do NOT write them down.

If you’ve been victimized, here’s how you can get help:

1. Contact the police and report the identity theft.

Be sure you’ve written down all details pertaining to your case, so you leave nothing out. Provide any and all documentation, including any debt collection notices, credit reports, evidence of fraud, and a notarized identity theft Affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission.

This is not the kind of crime that the police really want to handle. You must be persistent and demonstrate the proof of your claim clearly and concisely. The major credit bureaus will only block the fraudulent accounts from your credit report if you provide a police report. If your local police will not take your case, report the fraud to your county or state police. If you live in a state where ID theft is not a crime under state law, you can file an “incident report.”

2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting a credit bureau and review your credit reports. When the credit bureau has confirmed your fraud alert, the other two bureaus will be automatically notified to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You will also receive all three credit reports free of charge. Review your reports carefully. Look for the following signs of identity theft:

  • Recent credit inquiries with which you’re unfamiliar
  • Credit accounts you did not open
  • Unexplained debts on your accounts
  • Incorrect name, address, or social security number

Equifax

Fraud hotline: 1-800-525-6285 Fraud Assistance Division: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian

Fraud hotline: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) Fraud Victim Assistance: P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion

Fraud hotline: 1-800-680-7289 Fraud Victim Assistance: P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

3. Close any accounts that you feel contain fraudulent information.

Credit:

Credit accounts include any account with a bank, credit card company, lender, utility company, Internet service provider or other home/business service provider.

  • Create new Personal Identification Numbers (PIN numbers) and passwords for all accounts.
  • Cancel your ATM card and request a new card with a new PIN.
  • For new unauthorized accounts and existing accounts with fraudulent transactions:

Complete an ID Theft Affidavit, which is a form used to report fraud to many companies where a new account was opened in your name. Developed by the FTC in conjunction with banks, credit grantors and consumer advocates, the ID Theft Affidavit is accepted by credit issuers, retailers, banks, and other financial institutions. For a copy of the ID Theft Affidavit, log on to www.consumer.gov/idtheft/affidavit.htm, or call 1-877-IDTHEFT.

Checks:

  • If your checks or checking account information has been stolen, notify your bank immediately and close the account.
  • Ask the bank to notify the appropriate check verification service.
  • Responsibility for forged checks are with the banks, however, you are expected to take reasonable care of your account, including checks.
  • Notify the bank immediately, so you’re not accused of forgery.
  • Contact the three major check verification companies and request that companies who use their databases not accept your checks.

TeleCheck – 1-800-710-9898 Certegy, Inc. – 1-800-437-5120

4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the most vigilant government resource when it comes to fighting identity theft. The FTC keeps an updated and secure database of identity theft complaints which law enforcement officials use to hunt down ID thieves. The FTC can also provide support and guidance for both business and consumer victimization.

To file a complaint or learn more about the FTC, contact them on the most convenient method below: http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft

1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)

Identity Theft Clearinghouse Federal Trade Commission 600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20580.